The average Thanksgiving dinner packs a whopping 3,000 calories, including 229 grams of fat. With the additional 1,500 or so calories from pre-dinner and post-dinner snacks and drinks, the day’s total damage usually lands somewhere around 4,500 calories. That’s more than twice the average daily calorie intake for an adult and 3.5 times more than the recommended calories from fat (45%).

Thanksgiving only comes once a year, so many of us just plan on burning off those extra calories at the fitness center before and after the big feast. To do so, you’d need to run at least a marathon…or more! While you might be ready for 26.2 miles just yet, “turkey trot” races are a time-honored holiday tradition that help many people burn those calories in a more fun and competitive environment. The usual 5K distance is achievable for just about anyone, even if you’ve never run a race before.

If you’re looking for some extra motivation to hit the fitness gym for the next 4 weeks, here are reasons to run a turkey trot this Thanksgiving.


#1: Start now, and you’ll have enough time to train.

If you’re new to racing or aren’t currently in racing shape, 4 to 5 weeks is just enough time to build up to 3.1 miles gradually, starting around 1.5 miles. If you can’t jog/walk that distance yet, just start where you’re at. Keep in mind that if you end up having to walk part of the race, you’ll be in good company —and you’ll still be burning calories.


#2: 5Ks offer something for everyone, from beginners to elite athletes.

Okay, so maybe this won’t be your first race. But the great thing about a 5K is that it’s a versatile distance – a notable accomplishment for the newbie and a speed challenge for the seasoned runner. If it’s new to you, just focus on finishing. If you’ve run a few 5Ks and are up for a challenge (and burning more calories), do some interval training and shift your focus to beating your fastest time.


#3: The atmosphere of a turkey trot is fun and motivating.

From music and pre-race dance warmups to cheering spectators and themed costumes, races make exercise far from boring. It’s also easier to forget you’re out of breath and sweating like crazy when there are people and events around to distract you.


#4: Turkey trots are known for great swag and prizes.

Even if you don’t have the fastest legs out there, many turkey trots hand out custom t-shirts just for signing up, and custom medals just for finishing. For the fleet of feet, there’s always the allure of trophies and food prizes like frozen turkeys or pie.


#5: The accomplishment can fuel motivation for future fitness goals.

Many people reluctantly run their first turkey trot only to discover a love for racing that motivates them to sign up again and again. But, regardless of whether you love racing, the sense of accomplishment from finishing a turkey trot in time to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner (almost) guilt-free can motivate you in your fitness goals the next time you hit the gym.

So find a turkey trot in your area, use a fitness app or a workout buddy to help you train, and burn off that bird!